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Feb 19, 2024 - 1:45:26 AM

Quincy

Belgium

849 posts since 1/16/2021

Because I am getting started here with tapping feet while playing (YAY! FINALLY!) I have some beginner questions , don't laugh if these questions appear rather silly ;-)

1) What kind of shoes one should put on to tap feet while playing the fiddle and have the most effect when being recorded? The most tapping sounding shoes I got at the moment are some ankle boots with heels, model is cowboy ankle boot, but it is like a more elegant shoe in black with rose embroidery... possibly a heavier cowboy ankle boot model would work better?
2) I think I made a pretty decent new start lately because what did not seem to work at first and even felt like completely impossible for a very long time now feels like something I really want to master because it feels so natural , it suddenly appears to be very helpful as a tool NOT to fall out of the carousel and it rocks as a way of self expression and to get into the tune.
3) It feels like a lot of fun , so I must be doing something right here but I cannot keep it up for long yet, sometimes though I am doing it right , I can hear that
4) Are there any rules officially regarding which part of the foot you should use or can you tap feet as it appears comfortable? I like to switch between tapping toes and heels so it goes toes-heel-toes-heel-toes-heel here, also using two feet feels like more fun,  is that even allowed or done?
5) Any other things I should consider?
6) Why does this feel easier while sitting than while standing?
7) Would something like a wooden underground help to hear my own tapping better?

Edited by - Quincy on 02/19/2024 01:51:18

Feb 19, 2024 - 5:44:36 AM
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Strabo

USA

20 posts since 8/30/2021

Bop, bop, bop!

Any way you do it is good to keep the rhythm going.  

Do it the easiest way!

Feb 19, 2024 - 8:11:16 AM
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DougD

USA

11796 posts since 12/2/2007

I'm not really sure what you're asking about - I guess its not just about tapping your foot naturally, but about the more organized practice that's very uncommon in American (US) traditional fiddling.
I suggest you watch the film "New England Fiddles" at Folkstreams, and study Wilfred Giulette, who's the first fiddler featured. In 1969 I lived just across the border near Whitehall, NY and we would see Wilfred at the fiddle contests in Vermont, which were being revived at that time. He was a very energetic player, and always had a big grin on his face.
While you're at Folkstreams, have you watched "Music For the Sky?" John Specker is profiled at about 26:30, and does a little of that, though you can't see his feet. He also plays and sings the "Jenny Ran Away" tune, which he introduces as from "Merrie Olde England," but at the end he comments that its in the "Fiddler A Dram" family.

Feb 19, 2024 - 8:36:53 AM
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Fiddler

USA

4387 posts since 6/22/2007

There was a discussion on The Session several years ago about "seat clogging" or Quebecois foot percussion.

Seat Clogging on The Session

Here's are some video lessons:

https://youtu.be/yRKUgY4H9o8

https://youtu.be/NkAydkoI9K8

Here's a more involved lesson by Andre Brunet. Probably the best tutorial out there. I've tried to do this without success. Hope you are more successful.

https://youtu.be/m3ijnnjOlO0

Feb 19, 2024 - 10:04:19 AM
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2565 posts since 8/27/2008

I don't recommend tapping to keep time. It can be distracting to others playing with you. Even professionals can sometimes be seen tapping out of time while playing in time. This might be because tapping can be akin to dancing where movements aren't necessarily metronomic. I think it's a bad habit to develop. However, if you're asking about tap-DANCING, well, more power to you.

Feb 19, 2024 - 12:18:29 PM
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3566 posts since 9/13/2009

I think it's referring to using foot as a percussive instrument... part of the overall music.
 

4) Are there any rules officially regarding which part of the foot you should use or can you tap feet as it appears comfortable? I like to switch between tapping toes and heels so it goes toes-heel-toes-heel-toes-heel here, also using two feet feels like more fun,  is that even allowed or done?

No official rules. it's largely like any percussion, what pattern want; and listening to tone/volume and what sound want to get.

It's not all fancy foot work percussion. Many folks only use the single down beat; can be quite effective. Good place to start, solid foundation easier to maintain.

Some extend use alternating down beat and up beat; more of a boom chuck rhythm; 2 slightly different tones; heel/toe, or front/back; some alternate left/right.

Can extend to a more elaborate percussive pattern. For example, as above alternate front/back (boom/chuck) with right, then inserting left foot as in between those; getting a boom-chuck-a rhythm.

As far as what shoes, hardness of sole, or part of shoes, or what's underground, floor or board...will affect sound; again depends on what tone and volume want to get. Hard soles and hard floor/surface will be louder, and crisper. Heel tend to be lower tone. Some folks do have specific shoes, and/or use their own board. One thing to pay attention to is difference between just pivot tapping heel or toe vs slight lifting of foot and coming down.

6) Why does this feel easier while sitting than while standing?

Probably because you don't have to support/balance weight of body.

Related to that though, one thing I have found for me is the height of chair makes a difference, that it's easier slightly higher so hips are above knees; low chairs make it harder.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 02/19/2024 12:32:21

Feb 19, 2024 - 1:32:59 PM

Quincy

Belgium

849 posts since 1/16/2021

I had no idea there was even a difference in tapping to keep time or tapping for percussion, I think I meant the latter - however not sure, how does one make the distinction? Isn't using feet as percussion also same time a way to keep time and to not fall out of the carousel?

First time I ever really noticed this cool tapping was in this video, he starts at 00:38. It is still one of my all time favorite videos on YouTube regarding fiddling:

https://youtu.be/xoEriimkDtw

Then only recently I discovered indeed John Specker in this video , in the end you really see his feet, around 05:10 

https://youtu.be/-V-9rE005a4

Feb 19, 2024 - 1:34:36 PM

Quincy

Belgium

849 posts since 1/16/2021

I think both rock and one of the reasons I find this is because of the use of their feet!

Edited by - Quincy on 02/19/2024 13:35:30

Feb 19, 2024 - 1:54:40 PM
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DougD

USA

11796 posts since 12/2/2007

Well, its all percussion I guess, just some of it is more complex than others.
Both of those videos are simpler than what's sometimes done in Canada. In the first one its just a simple count, like anyone might do just to keep time, but louder. John starts with that with his left foot and then adds his right foot twice as fast. You could say his left foot is tapping in 2, while the right foot is in 4 (to the bar).
You asked about shoes, and I see John is just wearing sneakers, which is what he usually wears anyway. I don't know what makes it sound so percussive.

Feb 19, 2024 - 2:17:12 PM

Quincy

Belgium

849 posts since 1/16/2021

I really like that Québécois Foot Percussion, I'll keep this for later on, first I will try to keep it 'simple'. that is already challenging enough for me! I am very happy that I actually made a start yesterday , I have been trying to tap in the past but until yesterday that seemed like completely impossible.

Edited by - Quincy on 02/19/2024 14:22:54

Feb 19, 2024 - 3:13:19 PM
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Fiddler

USA

4387 posts since 6/22/2007

Ok - basic foot tapping - if done quietly, nobody cares. If done loudly and with percussive impact, it better be on the beat or folks in your playing circle will get a bit irritated.

There's a fiddler from Missouri whose fiddling I enjoy. He is a prodigy of Bob Holt. His foot tapping is like a blacksmith's trip hammer. He lifts his right foot up about 6 inches and drops it with emphasis! Big, steel-toed leather work boots really made an impact on a wood porch, as well as lawn or dirt. He will stomp down anything growing, and it will remain a bare spot for years. He will reset nails in a wood floor. However, he is right on the beat! Bare dirt results in puffs of dust rising around his boot. Pretty amazing sight!

I have also played with a friend whose foot tapping was .... let's say irregular. If I ever looked at his feet while playing, I would lose my rhythm and crash and burn. It was not pretty! A basic 1-2/1-2 beat would become 1-2/1-2-3-4-5-67/1-2-3-4-5/1-2 etc. (random patterns)

Personally, I limit foot tapping to times when the guitar is off beat and I want to get it back together. I may also do it when I am feeling excited about the music. However, I stop the moment I get off of the beat.

One of the most incredible foot-tapping experiences I have had was in Cape Breton - and it was not related to fiddling! It was group of Cape Bretoners singing and/or listening to a song. (We were at a local history event in Mabue about music in the home.) The soft pat of the foot in time with the song was spontaneous and was just incredible. It was not intrusive, but it was obviously a long-time tradition.

So, as a long-time fiddler (and mtn dulcimer player) of nearly 60years, my suggestion is to focus on the fiddling. When you are at events or listening to recordings, pat your foot to get a feel for the timing and what muscles you need to use. Your foot tapping while fiddling will come naturally.

Feb 19, 2024 - 3:33:31 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

1246 posts since 6/22/2016

In Canada, it is mainly the French-Canadian and Aboriginal fiddlers who employ the complex two-footed footwork. I would be happy to just be able to do a one-footed heel-toe beat for any length of time - I can do it for a couple of minutes, and then my leg gets too tired. Usually I just tap out the down beat with a heel; sometimes two heels.

Anyway, I would start with a simple heel-toe. Go to this page - https://bowingdownhome.ca/islandora/object/bdh%3A307 - to see and hear it in use.  Go to the bottom and click on the 'George MacPhee employs the one-footed tapping style ... ' video; also, at the very bottom, 'George MacPhee plays medley in G ... ', in which he starts with a heel-on-the-downbeat for the strathspey, then goes into the heel-toe with the reel, which creates a kind of excitement, for me anyway ... !

Feb 19, 2024 - 3:53:02 PM

Quincy

Belgium

849 posts since 1/16/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Old Scratch

In Canada, it is mainly the French-Canadian and Aboriginal fiddlers who employ the complex two-footed footwork. I would be happy to just be able to do a one-footed heel-toe beat for any length of time - I can do it for a couple of minutes, and then my leg gets too tired. Usually I just tap out the down beat with a heel; sometimes two heels.

Anyway, I would start with a simple heel-toe. Go to this page - https://bowingdownhome.ca/islandora/object/bdh%3A307 - to see and hear it in use.  Go to the bottom and click on the 'George MacPhee employs the one-footed tapping style ... ' video; also, at the very bottom, 'George MacPhee plays medley in G ... ', in which he starts with a heel-on-the-downbeat for the strathspey, then goes into the heel-toe with the reel, which creates a kind of excitement, for me anyway ... !


Thanks, this was what I needed at the moment! Wish I could try this one right now but it's 00:48 now , so I will have to wait till tomorrow.  I was holding my foot at the same spot and more tilting my foot from toe to heel and back, but the way he does it seems like a far better way.

Feb 19, 2024 - 4:05:39 PM

Quincy

Belgium

849 posts since 1/16/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Fiddler

Ok - basic foot tapping - if done quietly, nobody cares. If done loudly and with percussive impact, it better be on the beat or folks in your playing circle will get a bit irritated.

There's a fiddler from Missouri whose fiddling I enjoy. He is a prodigy of Bob Holt. His foot tapping is like a blacksmith's trip hammer. He lifts his right foot up about 6 inches and drops it with emphasis! Big, steel-toed leather work boots really made an impact on a wood porch, as well as lawn or dirt. He will stomp down anything growing, and it will remain a bare spot for years. He will reset nails in a wood floor. However, he is right on the beat! Bare dirt results in puffs of dust rising around his boot. Pretty amazing sight!

I have also played with a friend whose foot tapping was .... let's say irregular. If I ever looked at his feet while playing, I would lose my rhythm and crash and burn. It was not pretty! A basic 1-2/1-2 beat would become 1-2/1-2-3-4-5-67/1-2-3-4-5/1-2 etc. (random patterns)

Personally, I limit foot tapping to times when the guitar is off beat and I want to get it back together. I may also do it when I am feeling excited about the music. However, I stop the moment I get off of the beat.

One of the most incredible foot-tapping experiences I have had was in Cape Breton - and it was not related to fiddling! It was group of Cape Bretoners singing and/or listening to a song. (We were at a local history event in Mabue about music in the home.) The soft pat of the foot in time with the song was spontaneous and was just incredible. It was not intrusive, but it was obviously a long-time tradition.

So, as a long-time fiddler (and mtn dulcimer player) of nearly 60years, my suggestion is to focus on the fiddling. When you are at events or listening to recordings, pat your foot to get a feel for the timing and what muscles you need to use. Your foot tapping while fiddling will come naturally.


Not planning to do this while playing together with others!  I just thought it sounded cool when done by a solo fiddler like in the two example videos I showed. I would not dare to do this in company of other fiddlers hehe, I'd rather go unnoticed in group and try not to gain any attention or stand out at all.

The tune I started off with is a tune I just learned, Old Corn Liquor,  especially in the B part it works great. It also helps me to speed up my fiddling and play a bit with sone new tricks I learned like suddenly take an accent note on the lowest or highest string in between the basic melody notes <3  

Feb 20, 2024 - 10:58:21 AM
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52 posts since 12/28/2020

Leather bottomed shoes on wood. The French Canadian rhythm is not too hard, just watch a tutorial and start tapping away. Many players keep time while they play, across genres. It's more of an expression of the rhythm of the music they are already feeling and playing, rather than tapping their toe to count out the beats the way one might do in 4th grade orchestra...

Feb 20, 2024 - 1:09:10 PM

Fiddler

USA

4387 posts since 6/22/2007

Here are a couple of videos on Facebook from a recent jam in Ava, Missouri. (Sorry, they are not on YouTube.) You can see and hear the foot stomping. And, yes, everything is played that fast!! (As quick as a Bandersnatch!! -- and that's pretty spritely!)  There are more videos on this page of other fiddlers who do not tap their feet.  The guy in the blue/white/black checked shirt is a phenomenal fiddler and was a recent winner of the Ozark Fiddle Contest.

https://www.facebook.com/565852393/videos/331412299366399/

https://www.facebook.com/565852393/videos/1023581908741181/

Feb 21, 2024 - 6:47:41 AM
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228 posts since 11/26/2013

Kirk that's about the tempo my band plays a lot of fiddle tunes, nice n snappy. Re foot tapping, the jam I go to regularly sometimes has tempo issues, so the foot tap is more to keep everyone on tempo. I'll sometimes do both up and down beats, no reason just feels natural on some tunes. Bouncy ones lend themselves to stompin' !

Feb 21, 2024 - 7:37:55 AM
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DougD

USA

11796 posts since 12/2/2007

Kirk - I think both those videos are about 120 bpm, maybe just a trifle faster. Nothing really crazy, to me.
In both the videos Anja posted, the tapping was for musical/dramatic effect in performance or recording. As she said, she has no intention of doing it in a jam session environment.

Feb 21, 2024 - 9:27:21 AM

Fiddler

USA

4387 posts since 6/22/2007

Doug - yes, the tempo is about 120bpm. Not that usual for me since that is my comfort level, especially for Missouri tunes. However, some folks I play with complain that it is too fast. (Think to myself: "wimps") The fiddler who is stomping learned to play directly from Bob Holt. This playing is slow when compared to Bob Holt's playing.

Yes, I understand that she was interested in dramatic effect. Stomping could be used that way.

As wrench13 pointed out, the stomping could be just to keep everyone on the beat. And sometimes, you even get moved to add to the basic stomp. It's just fun to do!

Feb 21, 2024 - 1:49:06 PM
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6401 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by MeganBeller

Leather bottomed shoes on wood. The French Canadian rhythm is not too hard, just watch a tutorial and start tapping away.


HA!  I can do the bum-ditty footwork. It took weeks of practicing to be able to do it at tempo for the length of a tune, say 3 minutes (stamina is needed), and that doesn't include the near year that I've been trying to do it while fiddling. I'm a quick study, good fiddler, and have great internal rhythm but doing both at the same time is not easy as just watch a tutorial and start tapping away.

Feb 21, 2024 - 1:51:26 PM
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6401 posts since 9/26/2008

The first video from Kirk is well above 120bpm btw

Feb 21, 2024 - 2:02:50 PM

DougD

USA

11796 posts since 12/2/2007

Not by my metronome, but I sometimes have trouble transferring the beat to the metronome app, since they won't both run at once. Seemed like aboutt 122.

Feb 21, 2024 - 3:15:01 PM

Fiddler

USA

4387 posts since 6/22/2007

Here's another foot-tapping video from Cape Breton. Just stomping - everyone stomping, even the piano player. So, you can see how they are keep the beat. 

https://fb.watch/qmf3p2XCy0/

FWIW: Rodney MacDonald, as with most Cape Breton fiddlers, is absolutely phenomenal.

Feb 21, 2024 - 3:30:16 PM

52 posts since 12/28/2020

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan
quote:
Originally posted by MeganBeller

Leather bottomed shoes on wood. The French Canadian rhythm is not too hard, just watch a tutorial and start tapping away.


HA!  I can do the bum-ditty footwork. It took weeks of practicing to be able to do it at tempo for the length of a tune, say 3 minutes (stamina is needed), and that doesn't include the near year that I've been trying to do it while fiddling. I'm a quick study, good fiddler, and have great internal rhythm but doing both at the same time is not easy as just watch a tutorial and start tapping away.


Fair enough! I do it also, and I teach it to kids and adults. They pick the pattern up quickly but you're right, it takes a little while to build the stamina to go for a while (and the right height chair). No reason not to try it. Many years ago I spent a summer with my fiddle and the metronome putting the feet and fiddle together- the downstairs neighbors did not approve!

Feb 21, 2024 - 4:05 PM

6401 posts since 9/26/2008

Oh the right chair, yes! I also find it needs to be at dance tempo to hit the sweet spot between effort and ease. Too slow is kind of effort to stay steady, more muscles used to go slow. If this is what Anja is taking about, she definitely should get started, but I think she's mostly just starting to tap her foot? That's what it sounded like she was saying, how to make that steady foot stomp. Doesn't need to be a stomp even, just a hard surface - any shoe will do, even a bare foot makes a noise.

Feb 22, 2024 - 10:31:24 PM

387 posts since 12/2/2013

John Hartford just did what came naturally and then analyzed it and made up a tablature system to explain it.

Footlature from John Hartford

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